02 April, 2017
UConn won't be winning another title this year - something that was always unquestionably their focus amid their pure dominance in the sport - but Mississippi State's win didn't make it any less impressive.
Just like the 1980 USA men's Olympic hockey that upset the heavily favored Soviet Union team on way to the gold medal, Mississippi State (34-4) still has one more game to play after ending UConn's 111-game winning streak.
Mississippi State cat-quick point guard Morgan William's 14-foot jumper over Gabby Williams' outstretched hand dropped through the basket as time expired to give the Bulldogs the 66-64 overtime victory. Mississippi State is called with a foul allowing UConn to tie it at 60 with a free throw.
In Mississippi State's loss at SC on January 23, William and Vivians really struggled offensively, making just 6-of-27 shots from the field.
Four-time defending champions CT, in their 10th straight women's final four, hadn't lost a game since November 17, 2014.
"Make no mistake, we beat a heck of a basketball team, the greatest of all time, with the best coach of all time".
Not when there's one more game to win, not when there's a national championship on the line against SEC rival SC.
"I don't have to play them 100 times. Mississippi State came out from the beginning and just went at us", Samuelson said. "But how proud am I of my kids?" They forced the Huskies into a game they weren't comfortable with and never backed down even when UConn cut it close.
UConn will return to campus from the Final Four on Sunday for the first time in five years without a national championship trophy. It wasn't originally for me, but the way they had guarded, I told Dom (Dillingham) to get the ball and take it down the court.
Now the Bulldogs are one win away from one of their own after perhaps the biggest upset in women's basketball history.More news: Oil stable on falling Libyan output, but bloated United States market still weighs
"Maybe we're just not ready for this".
It wouldn't be until the fourth quarter that the Huskies would get back to "UConn basketball", rallying from a 16-point deficit-the team's biggest during their entire NCAA record streak-to take the lead 59-56.
Mississippi State's 6-foot-7 post player Teaira McCowan played well in both previous meetings this season against SC.
William had a chance to win the game in regulation, but her shot was blocked by Williams setting the stage for a different result when the two players' paths crossed again. "We just kept playing like older, older players, more mature players".
Schaefer was part of a national championship while on coach Gary Blair's staff at Texas A&M in 2011, then became Mississippi State's head coach. But that seemed like centuries ago on Friday night.
Vivians had 19 points, William had 13, Richardson had 12 and McCowan finished with 10 for the Bulldogs (34-4).
On the ensuing possession, Saniya Chong drove to the hoop and threw up an ill-advised shot in traffic that fell harmlessly out of bounds with 12 seconds left.
"It was personal. We had to prove we're a much better team than past year", said Victoria Vivians, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points. Mississippi State had the ball and a chance to end it.
In the final minute, Katie Lou Samuelson was hit in the neck by Dominique Dillingham. The last loss came to Notre Dame in 2012 in the Final Four.
Against the Gamecocks, who beat Stanford 62-53 in Friday's first semifinal, Mississippi State will need to try to do more of the same.